༺ Apostle (2) ༻
Serenity, depending on one’s perspective, was a rather spiteful emotion.
To remain composed amidst raging rapids on all sides, appearing nonchalant from within the torrents — it was nothing short of vexing.
That perfectly described Vera’s current feelings towards Trevor.
His matter-of-fact talk of sacrifice and love only frustrated Vera.
Vera’s teeth clenched tightly as he let out a short breath. Glaring at Trevor, he spoke.
“…Don’t be ridiculous.”
Vera couldn’t accept this.
Not this kind of sacrifice, nor the future where they had to die.
Nothing could convince him.
From birth, Vera had been greedy and selfish.
He was the type to only be satisfied once he obtained all that he desired.
That was why letting go of what he already had was unacceptable to him.
This wasn’t the end Vera wished for in this life.
“Who will manage the Grand Temple with you in that state?”
When everything was finally over and they returned to the Holy Kingdom, Trevor still had to be the Grand Temple’s caretaker.
“Who will guard the gate?”
The twins still had to watch the gates with their usual clueless expressions.
“Who will teach the priests, who will tend to the grass and weed, and who will go on dispatch?”
The other Apostles as well, had to remain at their posts.
And, more than anything…
“…Who will rule the Holy Kingdom?”
Vargo had to return to his position, and Vera needed to tell him the answer he had finally found.
That he was no longer lacking.
So, Vera spoke.
“Quit your bullshit and take care of your body. At the very least, focus on recovering enough strength to stand up straight while I go and bring His Holiness back.”
Vera spoke sharply and then continued to Renee.
“Saint, I’ll be back.”
Renee turned to face Vera.
She blessed him and replied, seeming genuinely pleased with the emotions and words he spilled out.
“Please come back together.”
“Yes. Twins, follow me.”
“Marek will guard the gate.”
Three sets of footsteps gradually faded away.
The sound of the stone door closing echoed.
Renee listened to the fading sounds for a moment before speaking to Trevor.
“He’s changed a lot, hasn’t he?”
It was a question about Vera.
She was proud of how the once rigid and duty-bound Vera had changed so much. At that, Trevor stared at the closed stone door for a while before replying.
“…Yes, he has truly changed a lot.”
Vera used to be bound by rules, as though he was always suppressed by something.
It was astonishing to see him express his emotions so openly now.
However, that wasn’t the only surprising thing.
Trevor’s red eyes shifted to Renee.
“You’ve grown a lot as well.”
Renee had also grown so much that she could no longer be seen as just a young girl.
As the one who had been in charge of her education from early on, Trevor felt a sense of pride.
A smile appeared on Trevor’s lips.
At that moment, Annalise spoke up.
[…What a bunch of bullshit.]
It was a sentiment mingled with indescribable emotions — rage and sorrow.
[How can you laugh like that?]
Annalise thought there had never been a time when she was more furious about being trapped in a doll than now.
She couldn’t even give her beloved disciple, for whom she had been willing to give up the position she had spent a lifetime working for, a piece of her mind in this state.
“You’ve become quite adorable, Master.”
[Not as much as you. You seem to have aged even more than me.]
“Have I? It has been so long since I’ve looked in a mirror.”
At his words that gently deflected her anger, Annalise asked angrily.
[If you knew you would become like that, why didn’t you stay with me? If it were me…]
I would have done anything to save you.
She couldn’t finish her words.
Trevor’s current expression already told her the answer.
With a hint of sorrow in his voice, he spoke.
“…That’s why I ran away. Because I knew you would if it were you, Master.”
They were words that made Annalise feel regretful.
“Knowing you would sacrifice hundreds, even thousands of lives just to save mine, I ran away.”
Sadness shot towards her in the form of a smile.
“I hoped you wouldn’t have, Master. But…”
Annalise found herself at a loss for words.
She only felt her insides boiling with emotion.
Annalise knew that Trevor was a bright and affectionate person.
She knew he was a child who even had difficulty dissecting frogs for experiments.
Yet he was also stubborn, unwilling to back down from his beliefs.
[…Such a fool.]
There was no bigger fool than him.
Annalise felt devastated and turned to Jenny.
[Kid, let’s go.]
“Where are we going?”
At the sound of the sharp cry, Jenny looked at Trevor.
Then, after looking at Annalise again, she nodded and turned away.
Having silently listened to their exchange, Renee called out to Trevor only after Jenny left.
“She has a really terrible personality.”
“She certainly does have a fierce temper.”
Renee contemplated quietly.
It was an unexpected encounter that made their paths first cross, but if there was one thing that she learned about Annalise, it was that she, too, harbored love.
She had that special someone who she would do anything for.
Of course, this didn’t mean her sins were forgiven.
She was the master of a tower built upon evil deeds, and it was only right for her to pay the price.
It was not Renee’s role to pass judgment.
She wasn’t the victim, their family, or the one to judge sins.
Her role was weaving fate to erase tragedies, and to remember those tragedies so that they would never happen again.
Renee wiped away her thoughts, and then spoke to Trevor.
“If I add more power to the Evil-Sealing Circle, will the others awaken?”
“…I cannot say. It is not something I can control either.”
“Is that so? Then I’ll have to try.”
Renee evoked her divinity.
A pure, white miracle filled the stone room.
Trevor’s eyes widened.
The power bestowed upon him conveyed the reason.
It was the first time that Trevor witnessed Renee use her power.
He was astonished.
A thought entered Trevor’s mind as he realized that without beholding this sight firsthand, he couldn’t possibly grasp just how absurd the phenomenon Renee was manifesting truly was.
The rules governing the world and space were deconstructed and reconstructed in a different form.
Trevor’s eyes trembled, and tears suddenly flowed down his dried-up body.
Just like that, as the far too beautiful miracle illuminated the stone room and Trevor’s tears dripped down his chin, the three people opened their eyes.
Before the gates of Elia.
The twins mulled over Vera’s parting words.
— Guard it at all costs.
Just one line.
No further explanation was given, but the twins raised their halberds.
To guard and protect — that was their role.
It was an extension of what they had always done, so the twins didn’t hesitate.
The sun sank below the horizon.
It was the time when moonlight was just beginning to reveal its presence.
The twins looked at the figures of countless clones emerging through the dirt floor.
“It’s like plants growing.”
“Right. Feels like we’re farmers.”
The twins exchanged nonsense as they watched the figures of clones taking the shape of Alaysia.
There were things the twins didn’t know.
First, the clones that couldn’t break through the Evil-Sealing Circle had been hiding here all along, and second, they had been waiting specifically for the twins to be left alone.
Of course, even if they knew, the twins wouldn’t be surprised.
“There’s too much pink. It’s dizzying.”
“Right. But Marek likes pink.”
As there was work to be done, the simple-minded twins were already preoccupied with the task at hand.
“If they break through, Vera will scold us.”
“Vera’s fist hurts. If we get bruises, girls will see and run away. We can’t let them through.”
The twins evoked their divinity.
In the middle of that, Krek asked.
“Marek, do you think?”
“Me neither. But we should.”
Smarter than Marek.
Trevor definitely said they could become Apostles.
That protecting this place was their calling.
So they, too, had to follow the revelation as Apostles.
“We have to think. We have to realize. And we have to protect.”
These were the three sentences they had memorized until their heads ached.
It was the task given to them by the heavens that led them here.
Before going into battle, as Krek’s contemplation continued, Marek spoke.
The exceedingly simple-minded Marek corrected Krek’s words.
“Our God said it the opposite order. God is stupid.”
“I don’t understand the order.”
“It’s not think, realize, and protect.”
Marek slammed the floor with his halberd.
“Protect first, then think and realize after.”
Marek hated challenging thoughts.
He didn’t like complicated matters, either.
He just wanted to pour all his focus into the problem right before his eyes.
There was a saying.
The truth is often found in the simplest things.
It must have been a striking coincidence.
Marek’s flimsy excuse, born from his reluctance to think, had pierced through to the core of the revelation.
Krek’s eyes sparkled.
Words of admiration burst from his mouth.
“Marek is smart. From today, Marek is Big Brother.”
“Got it. From today, it’s Big Brother Marek.”
Their divinity intensified.
The two weaved together possibilities by intertwining their physical and mental selves, as well as Providence as one.
As with all stigmas and powers, the two instinctively realized how to use this newfound might.
“This isn’t hard. We just endure.”
“Marek is good at enduring. Both night and day.”
In an instant, a human tidal wave surged forth.
Innumerable corpses bearing Alaysia’s visage reached out towards the pair.
Then, two halberds swung mightily through the air.
Krek laughed as Marek spoke.
“Marek’s become popular.”
Marek didn’t think.
Vera rushed forward.
Led by his instincts, he headed to a place with such an intense killing intent that he wondered why he hadn’t felt this before.
His emotions were raging more than ever.
The desire dwelling in his heart also grew more desperate than ever.
‘…It’s not over yet.’
He sensed Vargo’s aura.
He also felt an indescribable, sticky aura that was likely Alaysia’s.
As he ran, Vera thought.
There’s no way of immediately defeating Alaysia, even if I join the fight.
A hasty charge could instead lead to disaster.
His worries continued.
Vera, who had always prided himself on making the best decisions in any situation, began to recall everything at his disposal.
At the end of his not-so-short contemplation, Vera remembered something he had forgotten.
Beyond the colossal mountain range, beyond this killing intent, his gaze turned forward.
To the place where Vargo laid Terdan to sleep four years ago.
The slumbering Terdan rested there still.
‘The Arbiter of the Age of Gods.’
The one who had stopped Alaysia the most.
Though the so-called records from the Age of Gods were scarcely trustworthy at this point, they remained his only option.
Vera drew the Holy Sword, stepping into the realm of Intention and Providence until they overlapped with the visible realm. The overwhelming rules that constituted the mountain range crushed Vera’s very being.
As Vera clenched his teeth, bearing the weight of those intersecting worlds, he raised his sword.
He added the Oath.
He added Intention.
Lastly, he added his desires, his will to protect, and unleashed it.
In that singular moment, the gap between their physical distance and existential realms lost all meaning.
A golden divinity shot forth towards the unreachable distance, touching the mountain range.
That mountain range, the existence called Terdan, was awakened.
And then, without warning…
The earth shook.